Bill would make killing fetuses a crime

Posted March 3, 2011

— Several North Carolina lawmakers are promoting legislation that would create criminal offenses for acts that cause the death or injury of a fetus "at any stage of development."

Rep. Dale Folwell, the second-ranking Republican in the state House, and three Republican colleagues spoke Thursday about new legislation they say would protect the most vulnerable.

"This bill speaks for itself, and it speaks to how North Carolina is going to treat murderers and thugs of pregnant women in this state," Folwell said.

If it becomes law, House Bill 215 would make someone who commits murder, manslaughter or assault against a pregnant woman guilty of the same crimes against the fetus.

North Carolina is one of about 15 states that does not recognize the death of a fetus or unborn child as a result of a violent crime as a homicide.

State law makes injury to a woman that results in a miscarriage or stillbirth an aggravating factor in a felony. The new bill would make it a separate crime.

The new bill also addresses criticisms that have stalled similar legislation in the past. It makes clear that the provisions don't apply to legal abortions or impose criminal liability of an expectant mother who suffers domestic violence that injures or kills her fetus.

The bill is named "Ethen's Law" after the unborn son of Jenna Nielsen, who was eight months pregnant when she was stabbed to death outside a Raleigh convenience store in June 2007.

Her father, Kevin Blaine, and father-in-law, Tim Nielsen, have spent years lobbying state lawmakers for a fetal homicide law.

The campaign for such a law has garnered attention amid other high-profile slayings of pregnant women, as well, including Janet Abaroa in Durham in 2005, Michelle Young in Wake County in 2006, and Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20, in Jacksonville in 2007.

Relatives of Lisa Wallace – whose unborn twins died after she was shot in in Warsaw in 2008 – have also campaigned for a state law making actions that kill an unborn child a separate offense.

Bill would make killing fetuses a crime Bill would criminalize killing fetuses

Effie Steele, whose 21-year-old daughter Ebony Robinson was shot and killed just weeks before she was supposed to give birth to son Elijah in 2007, spoke about the bill Thursday.

"I felt betrayed and robbed when the murderer of Ebony and Elijah was not charged with double homicide and was not made to pay for the life of of my grandson," she said. "I was just flabbergasted when they told me that he would not be charged with Elijah’s murder."


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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Mar 7, 2011

    Women, if this passes, get ready to start having to "explain" your misscarriage to the Authorities.

    (knock) (knock) "Pardon us, ma'am. We understand that you SAY you had a natural misscarriage. Nevermind how we know... We're going to need you to come with us to clear this up. We're talking about a possible murder here."

    Hmmm...I wonder if husbands would be taken in also as accomplices?

  • blackdog Mar 4, 2011

    "You might change your mind on whether a fetus is a baby if you view a "live" abortion video on youtube. It definitely convinced me."

    Yeah. Medical invasive surgery can look grusome. But, I've known, too many children who were not wanted. Now, that IS gross.

  • k2tal38 Mar 4, 2011

    We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life--the unborn--without diminishing the value of all human life."--Ronald Reagan

  • k2tal38 Mar 4, 2011

    chief purpose of government is to protect life. Abandon that and you have abandoned all."
    Thomas Jefferson

  • k2tal38 Mar 4, 2011

    I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born. ~Ronald Reagan, quoted in New York Times, 22 September 1980

  • bonnnie Mar 4, 2011


  • passport423 Mar 4, 2011

    You might change your mind on whether a fetus is a baby if you view a "live" abortion video on youtube. It definitely convinced me.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Mar 4, 2011

    I think the families of these murdered women should sue WRAL for deliberately allowing this misleading headline which has resulted in 200+ disrespectful and nauseus comments.

    WRAL nor these posters have no respect for these murdered women or their unborn children.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Mar 4, 2011

    fetus isn't a child...wildcat

    If it isn't a developing human, than what is it Dataclerk?

  • wildcat Mar 4, 2011

    Currently there is no consequence for harming an unborn child, and that is wrong.

    What kind of mother is caring for the child in her womb in the first place? Who does the mother hang around with. IS SHE MARRIED?